Venezuela is one of the saddest stories around right now. Once the richest countries in Latin America, the failed socialist policies of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro have bankrupted the nation to the point citizens are eating zoo animals and policemen are literally being paid in toilet paper. The Venezuelan people are getting fed up with their brutal and inept rulers, and political opposition is growing rapidly. Leftists are rallying to the support of their socialist heroes, though, and accusing President Trump of backing a “coup” against the Venezuelan government.
- Nicolas Maduro has been president of Venezuela since 2013. Succeeding his dead mentor Hugo Chavez, Maduro continued Chavez’s disastrous socialist economic policies. Under his rule the regime has also become much more brutal, as political opposition has grown.
- Maduro was re-elected in May of 2018 and won 67.8 percent of the vote – but the election was rapidly condemned as fraudulent by the two losing candidates, and then by most other countries. The US, Argentina, Australia and all the European Union member states were among those that rejected the result.
- Following Maduro’s inauguration on January 10 this year, the Organization of American States ruled that his election was illegitimate. The US and several other countries publicly refused to accept him as president. Instead they recognized Juan Guaido, the president of the National Assembly, as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.
- Under Venezuela’s constitution, the president of the National Assembly may become the country’s president if the office falls vacant. If Maduro’s re-election is ruled illegitimate, the office is legally vacant.
- Following the OAS ruling on Maduro’s legitimacy (or lack of), Guaido – who had quietly been preparing the skeleton of a provisional government since his own appointment on January 5 – gave a speech in the National Assembly in which he said Venezuela was in a state of emergency and was becoming a dictatorship. Shortly after, the National Assembly declared Guaido as the country’s interim president. Foreign recognition quickly followed.
- Many Left-wingers in the US and Europe claim that Maduro is being deposed by a coup d’etat backed by President Trump and other leaders determined to crush socialism.
- The reality is that Maduro’s election victory is only accepted by rogue states, dictatorships and the world’s few remaining communist countries. Venezuela’s neighbors – and even its own population – don’t want President Maduro anymore.
- According to international observers and much of the Venezuelan government, there is no legitimately elected president – so the office is vacant. That means that, under the constitution, Guaido becomes interim president. This is not a coup. It’s Venezuelan law working the way it’s supposed to, and we should all join President Trump in supporting that.